Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

I.T. Email Procedures

1.0 Overview

Email is an essential component of business communication; however it presents a particular set of challenges due to its potential to introduce a security threat to the network. Email can also have an effect on GSCS's liability by providing a written record of communications, so having a well thought out policy is essential. This policy outlines expectations for appropriate, safe, and effective email use.

2.0 Purpose

The purpose of these procedures is to detail GSCS's usage guidelines for the email system. These procedures will help GSCS reduce risk of an email-related security incident, foster good business communications both internal and external to GSCS, and provide for consistent and professional application of GSCS's email principles.

3.0 Scope

The scope of these prodecudres includes GSCS's email system in its entirety, including desktop and/or web-based email applications, server-side applications, email relays, and associated hardware. It covers all electronic mail sent from the system, as well as any external email accounts accessed from GSCS network.

4.0 Procedures

4.1 Proper Use of GSCS Email Systems

Users are asked to exercise common sense when sending or receiving email from GSCS accounts. Additionally, the following applies to the proper use of GSCS email system.

4.1.1 Sending Email

When using a GSCS email account, email must be addressed and sent carefully. Users should keep in mind that GSCS loses any control of email once it is sent external to GSCS network. Users must take extreme care when typing in addresses, particularly when email address auto-complete features are enabled; using the "reply all" function; or using distribution lists in order to avoid inadvertent information disclosure to an unintended recipient. Careful use of email will help GSCS avoid the unintentional disclosure of sensitive or non-public information.

4.1.2 Personal Use and General Guidelines

Personal usage of GSCS email systems is permitted as long as:


a)    Such usage does not negatively impact the corporate computer network.

b)    Such usage does not negatively impact the user's job performance.


General Guidelines:


a)    The following is never permitted: spamming, harassment, communicating threats, solicitations, chain letters, or pyramid schemes. This list is not exhaustive, but is included to provide a frame of reference for types of activities that are prohibited.


b)    The user is prohibited from forging email header information or attempting to impersonate another person.


c)    Email is an insecure method of communication, and thus information that is considered confidential or proprietary to GSCS may not be sent via email, regardless of the recipient, without proper encryption.


d)    It is a GSCS expectation not to open email attachments from unknown senders, or when such attachments are unexpected.


e)    Email systems were not designed to transfer large files and as such emails should not contain attachments of excessive file size.


Please note that the topics above may be covered in more detail in other sections of these procedures.

4.1.3 Business Communications and Email

GSCS uses email as an important communication medium for business operations. Users of the corporate email system are expected to check and respond to email in a consistent and timely manner during business hours.

Additionally, users are asked to recognize that email sent from a GSCS account reflects on GSCS, and, as such, email must be used with professionalism and courtesy.

4.1.4 Email Signature

Email signatures (contact information appended to the bottom of each outgoing email) may or may not be used, at the discretion of the individual user. Users are asked to keep any email signatures professional in nature.

4.1.5 Auto-Responders

GSCS recommends the use of an auto-responder (if the email system is equipped with such a feature) if the user will be out of the office for an entire business day or more. The auto-response should notify the sender that the user is out of the office, the date of the user's return, and who the sender should contact if immediate assistance is required.

4.1.6 Mass Emailing

GSCS makes the distinction between the sending of mass emails and the sending of unsolicited email (spam). Mass emails may be useful when communicating with GSCS's employees, students and parents and is allowed as the situation dictates. The sending of spam, on the other hand, is strictly prohibited. Mass emails to the division must have the approval of the Division Communications Officer.

4.1.7 Opening Attachments

Users must use care when opening email attachments. Viruses, Trojans, and other malware can be easily delivered as an email attachment. Users should:

Never open unexpected email attachments.

Never open email attachments from unknown sources.

Never click links within email messages unless he or she is certain of the link's safety. It is often best to copy and paste the link into your web browser, or retype the URL, as specially-formatted emails can hide a malicious URL.

GSCS may use methods to block what it considers to be dangerous emails or strip potentially harmful email attachments as it deems necessary.

4.1.8 Monitoring and Privacy

Users should expect no privacy when using the corporate network or GSCS resources. Such use may include but is not limited to: transmission and storage of files, data, and messages. GSCS reserves the right to monitor any and all use of the computer network. To ensure compliance with GSCS policies this may include the interception and review of any emails, or other messages sent or received, inspection of data stored on personal file directories, hard disks, and removable media.

4.1.9 GSCS Ownership of Email

Users should be advised that GSCS owns and maintains all legal rights to its email systems and network, and thus any email passing through these systems is owned by GSCS and it may be subject to use for purposes not be anticipated by the user. Keep in mind that email may be backed up, otherwise copied, retained, or used for legal, disciplinary, or other reasons. Additionally, the user should be advised that email sent to or from certain public or governmental entities may be considered public record.

4.1.10 Contents of Received Emails

Users must understand that GSCS has little control over the contents of inbound email, and that this email may contain material that the user finds offensive. If unsolicited email becomes a problem, GSCS may attempt to reduce the amount of this email that the users receive, however no solution will be 100 per cent effective. The best course of action is to not open emails that, in the user's opinion, seem suspicious. If the user is particularly concerned about an email, or believes that it contains illegal content, he or she should notify his or her supervisor or IT Services.

4.1.11 Access to Email from Mobile Phones

Many mobile phones or other devices, often called smartphones, provide the capability to send and receive email. GSCS permits users to access GSCS email system from a mobile phone. Refer to the Mobile Device Procedures for more information.

4.1.12 Email Regulations

Any specific regulations (industry, governmental, legal, etc.) relating to GSCS's use or retention of email communications must be listed here or appended to this policy.

4.2 External and/or Personal Email Accounts

GSCS recognizes that users may have personal email accounts in addition to their GSCS-provided account. The following sections apply to non-GSCS provided email accounts:

4.2.1 Use for GSCS Business

Users must use the corporate email system for all business-related email. Users are prohibited from sending business email from a non-GSCS-provided email account.

4.2.2 Access from GSCS Network

Users are permitted to access external or personal email accounts from the corporate network, as long as such access uses no more than a trivial amount of the users' time and GSCS resources.

4.2.3 Use for Personal Reasons

Users are strongly encouraged to use a non-GSCS-provided (personal) email account for any non-business communications. Users must follow applicable policies regarding the access of non-GSCS-provided accounts from GSCS network.

4.3 Confidential Data and Email

The following sections relate to confidential data and email:

4.3.1 Passwords

As with any GSCS passwords, passwords used to access email accounts must be kept confidential and used in adherence with the Password Policy. At the discretion of the IT Manager, GSCS may further secure email with certificates, two factor authentication, or another security mechanism.

4.3.2 Emailing Confidential Data

Email is an insecure means of communication. Users should think of email as they would a postcard, which, like email, can be intercepted and read on the way to its intended recipient.

GSCS recommends, but does not require, the encryption of email that contains confidential information, this is particularly important when the email is sent to a recipient external to GSCS.

Further guidance on the treatment of confidential information exists in GSCS's Confidential Data Policy. If information contained in the Confidential Data Policy conflicts with this policy, the Confidential Data Policy will apply.

4.4 GSCS Administration of Email

GSCS will use its best effort to administer GSCS's email system in a manner that allows the user to both be productive while working as well as reduce the risk of an email-related security incident.

4.4.1 Filtering of Email

A good way to mitigate risk from email is to filter it before it reaches the user so that the user receives only safe, business-related messages. For this reason, GSCS will filter email at the Internet gateway and/or the mail server, in an attempt to filter out spam, viruses, or other messages that may be deemed A) contrary to this policy, or B) a potential risk to GSCS's IT security. No method of email filtering is 100 per cent effective, so the user is asked additionally to be cognizant of this policy and use common sense when opening emails.

Additionally, many email and/or anti-malware programs will identify and quarantine emails that it deems suspicious. This functionality may or may not be used at the discretion of the IT Manager.

4.4.2 Email Disclaimers

The use of an email disclaimer, usually as text appended to the end of every outgoing email message, is often recommended as an additional component of a GSCS's risk reduction efforts. At this time GSCS does not require the use of email disclaimers.

4.4.3 Email Deletion

Users are encouraged to delete email periodically when the email is no longer needed for business purposes. The goal of this policy is to keep the size of the user's email account manageable, and reduce the burden on GSCS to store and backup unnecessary email messages.

However, users are strictly forbidden from deleting email in an attempt to hide a violation of this or another GSCS policy. Further, email must not be deleted when there is an active investigation or litigation where that email may be relevant.

4.4.4 Address Format

Email addresses must be constructed in a standard format in order to maintain consistency across GSCS. The recommended format is

4.4.5 Account Activation

Email accounts will be set up for each user determined to have a business need to send and receive GSCS email. Accounts will be set up at the time a new hire starts with GSCS.

Accounts on GSCS email system will only be provided to non-employees of GSCS with the permission of the IT Manager.

4.4.6 Account Termination

When a user leaves GSCS, or his or her email access is officially terminated for another reason, GSCS will disable the user's access to the account by disabling the account. GSCS is under no obligation to block the account from receiving email, and may continue to forward inbound email sent to that account to another user, or set up an auto-response to notify the sender that the user is no longer employed by GSCS.

4.4.7 Storage Limits

As part of the email service, email storage may be provided on GSCS servers or other devices. The email account storage size must be limited to what is reasonable for each employee, at the determination of the IT Manager. Storage limits may vary by employee or position within GSCS.


4.5 Prohibited Actions

The following actions shall constitute unacceptable use of the corporate email system. This list is not exhaustive, but is included to provide a frame of reference for types of activities that are deemed unacceptable. The user may not use the corporate email system to:

         Send any information that is illegal under applicable laws.

         Access another user's email account

a.    without the knowledge or permission of that user - which should only occur in extreme circumstances

b.    without the approval of GSCS executives in the case of an investigation

c.    unless such access constitutes a function of the employee's normal job responsibilities.

         Send any emails that may cause embarrassment, damage to reputation, or other harm to GSCS.

         Disseminate defamatory, discriminatory, vilifying, sexist, racist, abusive, rude, harassing, annoying, insulting, threatening, obscene or otherwise inappropriate messages or media.

         Send emails that cause disruption to the workplace environment or create a hostile workplace. This includes sending emails that are intentionally inflammatory, or that include information not conducive to a professional working atmosphere.

         Make fraudulent offers for products or services.

         Attempt to impersonate another person or forge an email header.

         Send spam, solicitations, chain letters, or pyramid schemes.

         Knowingly misrepresent GSCS's capabilities, business practices, warranties, pricing, or policies.

         Conduct non-GSCS-related business.

         GSCS may take steps to report and prosecute violations of this policy, in accordance with GSCS standards and applicable laws.

4.5.1 Data Leakage

Data can leave the network in a number of ways. Often this occurs unintentionally by a user with good intentions. For this reason, email poses a particular challenge to GSCS's control of its data.

Unauthorized emailing of GSCS data, confidential or otherwise, to external email accounts for the purpose of saving this data external to GSCS systems is prohibited. If a user needs access to information from external systems (such as from home or while traveling), that user should notify his or her supervisor rather than emailing the data to a personal account or otherwise removing it from GSCS systems.

GSCS may employ data loss prevention techniques to protect against leakage of confidential data at the discretion of the IT Manager.

4.5.2 Sending Large Emails

Email systems were not designed to transfer large files and as such emails should not contain attachments of excessive file size. GSCS asks that the user limit email attachments to 10Mb or less.

The user is further asked to recognize the additive effect of large email attachments when sent to multiple recipients, and use restraint when sending large files to more than one person.

5.0 Enforcement

This policy will be enforced by Superintendents of Education. Violations may result in disciplinary action, which may include suspension, restriction of access, or more severe penalties up to and including termination of employment. Where illegal activities are suspected, GSCS may report such activities to the applicable authorities. If any provision of this policy is found to be unenforceable or voided for any reason, such invalidation will not affect any remaining provisions, which will remain in force.

6.0 Definitions

Auto Responder An email function that sends a predetermined response to anyone who sends an email to a certain address. Often used by employees who will not have access to email for an extended period of time, to notify senders of their absence.

Certificate Also called a "Digital Certificate." A file that confirms the identity of an entity, such as a GSCS or person. Often used in VPN and encryption management to establish trust of the remote entity.

Data Leakage Also called Data Loss, data leakage refers to data or intellectual property that is pilfered in small amounts or otherwise removed from the network or computer systems. Data leakage is sometimes malicious and sometimes inadvertent by users with good intentions.

Email Short for electronic mail, email refers to electronic letters and other communication sent between networked computer users, either within a GSCS or between companies.

Encryption The process of encoding data with an algorithm so that it is unintelligible and secure without the key. Used to protect data during transmission or while stored.

Mobile Device A portable device that can be used for certain applications and data storage. Examples are PDAs or Smartphones.

Password A sequence of characters that is used to authenticate a user to a file, computer, network, or other device. Also known as a passphrase or passcode.

Spam Unsolicited bulk email. Spam often includes advertisements, but can include malware, links to infected websites, or other malicious or objectionable content.

Smartphone A mobile telephone that offers additional applications, such as PDA functions and email.

7.0 Revision History

Revision 1.0, 8/9/2011

Revision 2.0, 8/13/2012